From its beginnings as a Depression-era work program in 1933, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), and its later-established companion programs, the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and the Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS), have grown into the largest archival collection of historic architectural, engineering, and landscape documentation in the country.
HABS/HAER/HALS documentation includes drawings, photography, and written narratives and is used to record significant resources, as well as serving as a mitigation strategy to document properties prior to alteration or demolition. Documentation is typically prepared with the intent of submitting the final work to the Library of Congress collection and the National Park Service (NPS), as well as state and local archives. These studies can then provide researchers with comprehensive documentation of buildings, sites, structures, and objects significant in American history and the growth and development of the built environment. Some state and local agencies use HABS standards for recording properties at the local level.
HABS/HAER/HALS documentation typically includes three elements:
• Narrative description of the property and its history;
• Thorough photographic documentation of the resource using archival standards and processing; and
• Record of the resource’s features through either existing plans or the creation of measured drawings.
HABS/HAER/HALS documentation is conducted at four levels of intensity, which are a product of the building’s age, significance, and available documentation. The level employed on each project is determined by the NPS in consultation with the lead federal agency and State Historic Preservation Office. New South Associates’ staff includes historians, architectural historians, and photographers with experience in HABS/HAER/HALS projects throughout the nation, as well as in the Republic of Panamá.